On last night's 10 p.m. SportsCenter, ESPN delivered "breaking news" about the Orlando Magic's desperate attempts to retain star Dwight Howard. Here's the full transcript of that report:
Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan met with the franchise's disenchanted superstar Dwight Howard today in Los Angeles and according to sources, Hennigan traveled to LA to have this face-to-face discussion with Howard with the hopes of persuading him back off his trade request and allow the organization more time to build a championship contender. Hennigan was unsuccessful in his pitch however, as Howard reiterated his desire to leave Orlando as soon as possible.
RealGM.com columnist Jarrod Rudolph happened to be watching last night's broadcast, and immediately recognized something in those words; specifically, Rudolph recognized them as his words. More than an hour before that SportsCenter broadcast, Rudolph published this Howard story on RealGM. It reads:
Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan met with the franchise's disenchanted superstar Dwight Howard on Wednesday in Los Angeles, sources have confirmed to RealGM. Hennigan traveled to Los Angeles to have a face-to-face discussion with Howard with the hopes of persuading him to back off his trade request and allow the organization more time to build a championship contender. Hennigan, however, was unsuccessful in his pitch as Howard reiterated his desire to leave Orlando as soon as possible, according to sources.
ESPN didn't even make a token attempt at paraphrasing; Lynn Hoppes would be proud. The Worldwide Leader not only reported the work of another journalist without attribution, they did so WORD-FOR-WORD. If SportsCenter was a college student, it would be facing expulsion. SportsCenter read a shorter version of the report a half hour later, again using phrases lifted directly from Rudolph's piece.
We reached out to ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz to comment on this, but received an "out of the office" message. If anyone at ESPN would like to explain to us how this happened, we're all ears.
h/t to Jamie
Update (6:22 p.m.): ESPN's PR folks have explained what happened:
The story was unfolding during the live SportsCenter and the RealGM report was cut and inadvertently pasted by someone else into the anchor's script. We have apologized to the writer and are taking steps so it won't happen again.
So there you go. A mistake!